Apple Gears Up for Tablet Wars With iPad Air and iPad Mini With Retina Display

PHOTO: The iPad Air and iPad Mini with retina display were revealed at today’s Apple event in San Francisco.
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The stakes in the already fierce tablet wars just got a little higher.

Apple unveiled two new tablets today in San Francisco -- the iPad Air and the iPad Mini with Retina Display -- the latest in the company's arsenal to hold onto its dominance in the increasingly competitive arena.

Apple VP of Marketing Phil Schiller called the iPad Air "the lightest full-sized tablet in the world." Weighing in at only 1 pound, the newest iPad shed nearly a third of its weight compared to the last generation of iPad.

But the iPad Air isn't sacrificing any processing power with the reduced weight. You can think of it as trimming the fat and gaining some muscle, as the newest iPad includes a hardware upgrade in the form of an A7 Processor chip. For those keeping track, the A7 is also found in the iPhone 5s, unveiled barely a month ago. Unlike the recently released phone, however, it does not appear that the iPad Air will have a fingerprint sensor, known as TouchID.

In addition to the iPad Air is the iPad Mini with Retina Display. But even the little guy has a fair amount of power behind it, as it's also equipped with an A7 chip. The new iPad Mini will cost $399, while the older version rolls back in price to $299. Unfortunately, those that were hoping for a price drop in the full-sized tablet didn't get their wish. The older iPad 2 will still cost $399.

Many of the big tech companies have recently released tablets. Google's Nexus 7 was released during the summer and Amazon's Kindle Fire HDx just last week. Microsoft, in an interesting twist, released the Surface 2 and Surface 2 Pro today.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, speaking at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco instead of the Apple campus, seemed unfazed by the recent push of Apple's rivals coming out with their own tablets.

"The iPad is used four times more than all the other tablets put together," he said. "The competition is confused -- they brought you netbooks, now they are trying to make tablets into PCs."

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